Uganda: Moral Lessons- Why Wealthy, Arrogant Families Should Learn From The Two Burials At Palabek In Lamwo

Michael aka Mac- 4 touched many hearts with his humility
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Michael Odera touched the hearts of many with his good character

The moral lessons for powerful wealthy and arrogant families is that; however much wealth you might have got, you still need the ordinary poor folks to dig your grave when God calls you. Treat them well and with love. Share with those in need and they will help you some day. Even God blesses the hands that give generously.

The Acholi have a proverb; “Lim Pe Yiki” /lim pe yiki/ meaning your money cannot burry you.

Another one says “Ber Kit Loyo Lonyo” /ber kit loyo lonyo/ meaning to have good character is better than amassing wealth

 

Lamwo-Uganda: On Saturday, February 27, 2021, two people from Palabek passed on from St. Mary’s Hospital Lacor in Gulu City, northern Uganda. One was an old widow, with many grown up grandchildren who are themselves patents. Her husband was a wealthy businessman and had settled at Palabek Town Council in Lamwo district which is bordering South Sudan.

The family had very many children and grandchildren all over the world who are themselves, well establish and extremely wealthy and some held powerful positions in the different successive governments in Uganda.

The second person who died on the wee hours of Saturday, February 27, 2021 was an orphan whose father was a poor peasant of Abwocbel Palayeng clan in Palabek Kal sub-county. The father died when he was barely five years old. His mother, who now lives with her two sons in Gulu City is blind since childhood. She never saw the faces of her children and could only identify them through their voices. She will now miss the voice of her first born forever. So, this orphan, who had just celebrated his fifty-second birthday, grew up under the care of relatives since her mother also depends on others.

I watched this boy as he grew up with my family at the then Palabek kal trading center, now a Town Council, in the late seventies and early eighties where my father had a shop since my mother was his maternal auntie. He was a quiet, humble boy who did not tolerate unnecessary jokes by his peers but was always keen to learn new things. His peers simply called him Mac-4; the trade name of that assault rifle.

He found his way to Gulu at the peak of Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) rebellion by stealthily escaping from his sister’s home in Apyeta parish, Palabek Ogili sub-county in Lamwo district with the help of an old auntie who brought him to me in the early eighties walking through LRA operational areas. I sent him to a Primary school to resume studies. He was restless in school and later decided to abandon bursary from the World Vision before he could sit for his Primary Leaving Education and get at least a certificate. He went back to Apyeta from where he learnt the skills of hawking salt and matchboxes to displaced people.

When war intensified in the region, he fled back to Gulu to continue with his vending at the Gulu Main Market, where he specialized in vending radios and, lately, ready-made imported men’s wear until his demise on that fateful Saturday.

I received the sad news about his passing on of the two people, whom I knew quite well the same morning after 07.20 am, local time (about 04.30 GMT). That of the old lady was through announcement sent by her son over a local FM radio station while that of my uncle, who sadly visited me a week before, through a phone call by his wife. I could not believe at first. My wife was shocked.

I and my wife wasted no time but hurried to his home at Kabedopong, hardly half a kilometer away from my home where we found over fifty mourners, mostly relatives, his fellow market vendors and neighbors had gathered and were consoling the family while humming Christian songs.

By the time the first funeral meeting was beginning at 11.00 am (about 09.00 GMT), there were over one hundred mourners. This trend continued until Friday when the requiem service was held at Christ Church on Friday, March 05, 2021 during which the church was filled to capacity by mourners who came to pay their last respect to Mac-4.

I paid my last respect to the old lady on Thursday, March 04, 2021 by visiting the home of her grandson at Kanyagoga ‘A’ village on the western outskirt of Gulu City where her son, who walks with the help of crutches, also lives. This is where mourners are directed to go. I was the lone mourner during the over one hour I spent there. Her son, who was my classmate in the sixties, simply said “you are welcome” and left me alone.  I became a stranger to the home, which, ordinarily, would be my neighbors back home at Palabek Town Council.

The requiem service for this lady was also held at Christ Church just immediately after that of my uncle. Whereas the church was filled to capacity during the send off of my uncle, there could have been less than one hundred people to pay their last respect for her.

The same type of treatment Gulu mourners gave to the two families was also repeated at Palabek during the two burials on Saturday, March 06, 2021 at Palabek Town Council and Abwocbel-Magala for the old lady and my uncle respectively. Not even the two bulls slaughtered were enough to feed all the over one thousand mourners who turned up to send off my uncle.

Two people who attended the burial at the family of this wealthy family told me that in-laws were categorized into two groups and treated differently depending on their wealth and qualifications; and that nobody was willing to pick envelops for condolences. Although this wealthy family slaughtered a bull and hired catering services for the day, so much food could not eaten at all.

If this was a political campaign season, my uncle would be eaten by vultures because nobody would turn up to bury him since the size of the pocket defines your support (crowd). He left behind debts of over UGX 13 million shillings (about US$ 3590), nine school going children, two of whom are in expensive secondary and institution of higher learning.

Mourners gave over UGX 3 million shillings (about US$ 830) to support the two widows and children besides meeting all costs associated with burials including transporting themselves to the village where he was interred. His family did not spend a coin over this one week he spent in the mortuary.

His magnetic attributes

Mac-4 could not afford to ignore anyone in need, always giving out a helping hand to a brother or sister in need, especially relatives and his colleagues in the Gulu Main Market.

He was very passionate and a about unity, togetherness and a champion of love who hates nobody and no one hate him.

He could mobilize human capital, an educationist and a visionary who brought up eight close relatives and educated them all. I can testify that it was through his effort that an association of Palayeng clan children, nephews and nieces living in Gulu City began to meet at his home. I, being one of the nephews, am now able to know many of my maternal uncles through him.

The moral lessons for powerful, wealthy and arrogant families is that; however much wealth you might have got, you still need the ordinary poor folks to dig your grave when God calls you. Treat them well and with love. Share with those in need and they will help you some day. Even God blesses the hands that give generously.

The Acholi have a proverb; “Lim Pe Yiki” /limp e yiki/ meaning your money cannot burry you.

Another one says “Ber Kit Loyo Lonyo” /ber kit loyo lonyo/ meaning to have good character is better than amassing wealth

May their souls rest in eternal peace!

 

 

Acholi has a proverb, 'ber kit loyo lonyo' meaning to have good character is better than amassing wealth

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